Ex-Steinhoff boss Markus Jooste to go on trial in Germany in April

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Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste.
Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste.
Brenton Geach/Gallo Images/Getty Images
  • The long-awaited fraud trial of ex-Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste is set to start in mid-April in Germany. 
  • Jooste stands accused of using an elaborate accounting ploy to fraudulently boost the retailer's revenues. 
  • His South African assets were last year attached by the SA Reserve Bank.  
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

German authorities have announced that the trial of former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste will start on 18 April.

A court in the northern German town of Oldenburg has provisionally set down 10 days for the court case. 

A spokesperson did not say whether Jooste would be attending the case in person or whether he would be extradited. 

5 years, 4 months, 12 days

Jooste abruptly resigned as Steinhoff CEO in late 2017 when the first signs of what was to become SA's largest private sector fraud scandal came to light. 

German prosecutors charged him and three colleagues with balance sheet fraud in March 2021.

He stands accused of accounting fraud for falsely claiming to trade "know-how" in an allegedly bogus deal in 2010. This deal boosted the revenues of a German Steinhoff subsidiary by €95 million - roughly R1 billion at the time.

The former Steinhoff CEO is also the subject of a probe by the Hawks in South Africa, but no charges have been announced yet. 

The German case was brought by the prosecutor's office of Oldenburg, a town in Northern Germany near Westerstede, where the furniture and household goods retailer was founded.

READ | Steinhoff fraud scandal: Was it all to boost share price?

It was later split between two defendants living in Germany, and Jooste and a co-accused who are not German citizens. The case against the two former Steinhoff executives living in Germany is set to begin on 3 May.

Last year, Oldenburg regional court announced that Jooste's trial would start in early 2023, without giving an exact date. 

The court has now confirmed that the trial will run over 10 days, from 18 April to 14 June. This means his trial will start exactly five years, four months and 12 days after he resigned.

No comment 

Jooste, whose assets have been frozen by the SA Reserve Bank, has not publicly commented on the charge he is facing. His South African lawyers have not replied to repeated requests for comment from New24 Business. 

The former Steinhoff CEO and passionate racehorse racehorse owner has not spoken to the media since leaving the company he ran for years.

In his tense appearance before Parliament in 2018, he denied any wrongdoing. He blamed the calamitous plunge in Steinhoff's share price on a deal with an ex-German business partner. 

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